New York Times, January 9, 2019
Andrew Jacobs

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Happy 10 Minutes, a Chinese government campaign that encouraged schoolchildren to exercise for 10 minutes a day, would seem a laudable step toward improving public health in a nation struggling with alarming rates of childhood obesity.

But the initiative and other official Chinese efforts that emphasized exercise as the best way to lose weight were notable for what they didn’t mention: the importance of cutting back on the calorie-laden junk foods and sugary beverages that have become ubiquitous in the world’s second largest economy.

China’s fitness-is-best message, as it happens, has largely been the handiwork of Coca-Cola and other Western food and beverage giants, according to a pair of new studies that document how those companies have helped shape decades of Chinese science and public policy on obesity and diet-related illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The findings, published Wednesday in The BMJ and The Journal of Public Health Policy, show how Coca-Cola and other multinational food companies, operating through a group called the International Life Sciences Institute, cultivated key Chinese officials in an effort to stave off the growing movement for food regulation and soda taxes that has been sweeping the west. [...]

bioethics children's health food health law policy international obesity public health regulation